By George Mauzy
Jeff Campbell, a safety coordinator at Ohio University, had a simple message for supervisors enrolled in new training aimed at reducing workplace injuries.
"We wanted to let them know they have our support to make sure everyone gets home in one piece each day," said Campbell, the university's Occupational Safety and Health Administration coordinator.
"If you come to work with 10 fingers, we want to make sure you go home with 10 fingers."
On Monday, Campbell and his Environmental Health and Safety colleagues held a training program for 20 Finance and Administration area supervisors, the first of 10 sessions offered for supervisors in that area.
The training is one of 12 steps in a new Workplace Safety Initiative designed to reduce workplace injuries and save the university money. Training topics included incident investigation, training and documentation, workers compensation, hazardous materials and communication, emergency response, fire safety and pest control and sanitation.
Director of EHS Joe Adams said the university spent more than $5.5 million on worker injury claims during the past three years. On any given day, eight to 10 Ohio University employees are absent from work because of an injury sustained on the job.
Moreover, Ohio University ranked worst in claims last year among members of a 14-university insurance consortium to which it belongs. Adams said the university consistently has ranked in the bottom third of that group, in large part because of a high number of workers' compensation claims and associated costs.
University Custodial Services Manager Chuck Sheets said the training was informative.
"I didn't realize we spent that much on injuries and loss of work time -- that's a lot of money," Sheets said. "I liked when they told us not to depend on our most experienced employees to train new employees because they may not practice good safety."
University Custodial Services Manager Martha Roberts said the training allowed her to put some faces with the names of the EHS staff. She said the training also reminded her how crucial it is for employees to file incident reports on time so that a quality investigation can be done and future accidents prevented.
"Many times employees clean up after an accident and tell you at the end of the day," Roberts said. "They do it because they don't want to take the time to file a report when the accident happens, but I'm going to make it a big deal from now on."
Director of HVAC Operations Mike Magyary said his staff already holds weekly meetings to discuss safety issues and they have led to his staff being safety conscientious.
"Our guys are very aware of safety and feel it is their right to be safe," Magyary said. "For instance, they are extremely careful when working around fume hoods in the labs because of safety concerns. We now hire outside companies for some of this work to avoid serious injuries."
While the training seminar went well, the focus now shifts to what comes from it.
"A lot of people said they liked the training and gave us positive feedback," Campbell said. "Just like a coach, now we have to get the team to do what we practiced."
EHS hopes to fully implement all 12 steps of the Workplace Safety Initiative by July. For more information, visit www.ohiou.edu/ehs/general/evaluation.htm.